Naomi Osaka's decision to withdraw from the French Open has opened up a conversation regarding the relationship between tennis players and the press, and Osaka received support from Venus Williams on Tuesday.
Williams detailed how she handles scrutiny from the media following a first-round loss to Ekaterina Alexandrova, noting that each member of the media will "never light a candle to me."
“For me personally how I deal with it was that I know every single person asking me a question can’t play as well as I can and never will,” Williams told reporters at Roland Garros. "So no matter what you say or what you write, you’ll never light a candle to me."
“That’s how I deal with it. But each person deals with it differently.”
Osaka withdrew from the French Open on Monday, less than a week after noting she will not participate in media availability at the tournament due to mental health concerns. Osaka was fined $15,000 on Sunday.
"I think the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris," Osaka wrote Monday. "I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer."
Osaka noted she has suffered "long bouts of depression" since defeating Serena Williams to win the 2018 U.S. Open. She added speaking with the media gives her "huge waves of anxiety."
Osaka, 23, is a four-time Grand Slam champion. Williams has tallied seven Grand Slams since 2000, though she has never won the French Open.
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